Cover image for The English patient
Title:
The English patient
Author:
Ondaatje, Michael, 1943-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Everyman's Library, 2011.
Physical Description:
xxvii, 263 pages ; 21 cm.
Language:
English
ISBN:
9780307700872
Format :
Book

Available:*

Library
Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Status
Item Holds
Searching...
FICTION Adult Fiction Open Shelf
Searching...

On Order

Summary

Summary

Michael Ondaatje's Booker Prize-winning best seller lyrically portrays the convergence of four damaged lives in a bomb-riddled Italian villa in the last days of the war. Hana, the grieving nurse; the maimed thief, Caravaggio; the emotionally detached Indian sapper, Kip--each is haunted in different ways by the riddle of the man they know only as the English patient, a nameless burn victim who lies swathed in bandages in an upstairs room. It is this man's incandescent memories--of the bleak North African desert, of explorers' caves and Bedouin tribesmen,
of forbidden love, and of annihilating anger--that illuminate the story, and the consequences of the mysteries they reveal radiate outward in shock waves that leave all the characters forever changed.


Author Notes

Michael Ondaatje was born in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) on September 12, 1943. He moved to Canada in 1962 and became a Canadian citizen. He received a B.A. from the University of Toronto and a M.A. from Queen's University, Kingston, and taught English at York University. He has written several volumes of poetry, novels, and other works including There's a Trick with a Knife I'm Learning to Do, The Dainty Monsters, Rat Jelly, Coming through Slaughter, Running in the Family, In the Skin of a Lion, Anil's Ghost, and The Cat's Table. His title, Warlight, made the bestseller list in 2018.

Ondaatje has won numerous awards including the Canadian Governor General's Award in 1971 for The Collected Works of Billy the Kid and the Booker Prize in Fiction for The English Patient, which was adapted into a film in 1996.

(Bowker Author Biography) Michael Ondaatje was born in Sri Lanka. He now lives in Toronto.

(Publisher Provided)


Reviews 3

Booklist Review

A man on fire parachutes from a burning plane, crash-landing in the Sahara. He is rescued by Bedouins who wrap him in oil and felt. World War II is winding to a miserable close, and eventually the man is brought to an Allied hospital set up in an old Italian villa. When the rest of the patients and staff leave for home, a young, half-mad Canadian nurse insists on staying behind with the unidentified burn victim. Hana's grief over the suffering of the wounded and her father's death have made her crave the ravaged beauty of the villa and the still company of this silent, pain-ridden man, but an old family friend tracks her down. A thief by nature, turned spy by the war, Caravaggio was captured and tortured. This trio of the wounded and haunted becomes a quartet when they are joined by Kirpal "Kip" Singh, a Sikh serving the British as a sapper, or mine-disarmer. Ondaatje slowly reveals the past of each of these battered survivors, evoking the subtleties of their psyches from the mysterious patient's deep knowledge of the desert to Kip's sixth sense for locating and neutralizing hidden bombs. This is a poetic and solemn narrative of the horrible process of war, the discipline, displacement, loss, and sudden, desperate love. Ondaatje seems to whisper, even confess each scene to his readers, handling them gingerly like shards of shattered glass. Yet another dazzler by this accomplished novelist and poet. ~--Donna Seaman


Publisher's Weekly Review

Canadian author Ondaatje offers a poetic novel set in a desolate Italian villa in the final days of WWII--a one-week PW bestseller--and an evocative account of a visit with his family in Sri Lanka. (Dec.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved


Library Journal Review

Who is this wounded soldier living at an abandoned Italian villa near the end of World War II? He does not remember his name, only that he is British, but pieces of his conversation betray his knowledge. For the woman nursing him, his past does not matter. But as their twosome is invaded by two others, all focus shifts to his ``true'' identity. Ondaatje deals with the culture he knows best: the British family, living in Canada, relocated during the war. Poet that he is, he replaces narrative with vivid, lyric snapshots. Listeners may have to periodically rewind the tape to recall who is who, since the four ruminating voices, narrated by actor Michael York, are seldom identified by name, and flashbacks add to the confusion. But this book is best appreciated if listeners suspend a focus on the immediate narrative line, picking up bits of the story here and there, retaining enough imagery that eventually they understand a much greater whole. As such, it's a masterpiece. For most collections.-- Rochelle Ratner, formerly Poetry Editor, ``Soho Weekly News,'' New York (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Excerpts

Excerpts

She stands up in the garden where she has been working and looks into the distance. She has sensed a shift in the weather. There is another gust of wind, a buckle of noise in the air, and the tall cypresses sway. She turns and moves uphill toward the house, climbing over a low wall, feeling the first drops of rain on her bare arms. She crosses the loggia and quickly enters the house. In the kitchen she doesn't pause but goes through it and climbs the stairs which are in darkness and then continues along the long hall, at the end of which is a wedge of light from an open door. She turns into the room which is another garden--this one made up of trees and bowers painted over its walls and ceiling. The man lies on the bed, his body exposed to the breeze, and he turns his head slowly towards her as she enters. Every four days she washes his black body, beginning at the destroyed feet. She wets a washcloth and holding it above his ankles squeezes the water onto him, looking up as he murmurs, seeing his smile. Above the shins the burns are worst. Beyond purple. Bone. She has nursed him for months and she knows the body well, the penis sleeping like a sea horse, the thin tight hips. Hipbones of Christ, she thinks. He is her despairing saint. He lies flat on his back, no pillow, looking up at the foliage painted onto the ceiling, its canopy of branches, and above that, blue sky. She pours calamine in stripes across his chest where he is less burned, where she can touch him. She loves the hollow below the lowest rib, its cliff of skin. Reaching his shoulders she blows cool air onto his neck, and he mutters. What? she asks, coming out of her concentration. He turns his dark face with its gray eyes towards her. She puts her hand into her pocket. She unskins the plum with her teeth, withdraws the stone and passes the flesh of the fruit into his mouth. He whispers again, dragging the listening heart of the young nurse beside him to wherever his mind is, into that well of memory he kept plunging into during those months before he died. From the Trade Paperback edition. Excerpted from The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.